An Observation

I try to pay attention to what is going on and to learn from mistakes (Mine and others).

Recently I was pondering how the world has found itself in such a mess politics wise. Politicians seem to be able to convince the public that they are qualified to hold office and the public tends to believe them even when the facts indicate the opposite.

The Liberal government in Ontario (where I live) was in power for a number of terms making bad decisions and breaking election promises and the public kept voting them in. Is that because the alternative was worse or did the public actually believe they would do something different during their next term? When they were recently voted out, the people elected a leader that clearly has no ability to lead. He is making more bad decisions that will no doubt cause damage that will take years to fix.

In the United States the public elected “The Donald”. I’ve spoken to a lot of people since that fateful day and it seems there is a general mistrust of politicians in the USA. That coupled with a belief that their system would prevent political extremes, created a false sense of security. There are still some people who believe he was the right choice, but I think there are more that realize he was a mistake. Unfortunately his opponent was not considered to be a good alternative. You would think that in a two party system you would want the best candidate possible so you could win the next election. I find it interesting that both parties seem to be leaning towards running the same candidates. In the mean time, Mr Trump is trying he best to start so many fires his people can’t put them all out.

Then we have Venezuela. The people actually voted in Maduro because he managed to convince them that their country needed to distance itself from the influence of the United States. Venezuela had the highest standard of living of all countries in South America at the time. Once in power however he turned out to be yet another self important dictator who changed the rules to make sure he remained in power and bankrupted his country in the process. Large parts of the population have fled the country causing problems for surrounding countries.

In Colombia the people elected a new leader that has done his best to destroy the fragile peace that his predecessor negotiated with the FARC. He seems to be taking a hard line with the rebel factions and that has brought fighting back to the streets of Bogota. It is generally believed that he violated a Christmas truce to attack the remaining rebels. They in turn used a car bomb to kill police graduates at a ceremony in Bogota.

Then we have China, Russia and Brazil. Russia and China have leaders that changed the rules to make sure they stay in power and Brazil could very well be on a similar course.

Many countries have instituted laws to insure a separation of church and state. History taught us that religion is a powerful tool that can be used to influence governments against the people.

It seems that we have new problems now. The political parties are selecting leaders who are not qualified to lead and it seems that the people believe that they have to elect radicals to effect change.

I really don’t know what has to happen to put the world back on corse. I fear that crazy feeds crazy and there will be more chaos before the political world realizes what most of the public already knows.

“We all live on the same planet and we all come into this world and leave it the same way.

We are simply people, all born equal.

We may have differing opinions but there is no one right answer or way to do something.

We need to be considerate.  

Governments need to make decisions that benefit the people they represent.

    We need to treat each other with respect.

We need to all contribute to the betterment of the world to the best of our ability and not take advantage of each other.

    We need to think like global citizens.

I am not better than anyone else and no one is better than me.”

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How are we supposed to help?

As we get older and perhaps our expenses start to decline, some of us find ourselves in a position where we would like to give back. Giving back is a good thing but it’s not always obvious how we should do that. If we take the easy way out and give to local charities or globally recognized charities, the posted stats show that a larger percentage than I am comfortable with goes to the organization. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t give to local charities, just that I’m looking for more.

So what is the best way to give back? Spoiler alert… I don’t know the answer.

I would like to think that research gives us a bit of insight into the needs of a particular area but for every article you read there is another one that calls the first one a scam. It’s clear that there are people in need around the world and it’s clear that you can’t “Teach a man to fish” when he has no food, water, access to a body of water and no fishing equipment.

Venezuela seems to be an obvious hot spot at the moment, but sending anything there, even to friends, often gets intercepted. The currency is worthless and it seems that there is nothing to buy even if you have money.

Other places like Brazil and Colombia are doing an amazing job opening their doors to refugees, but migrating is not an easy choice and once the people have migrated, getting aid to them has more challenges.

I looked into programs that help with home builds but they take a percentage as an overhead fee and they are really expensive. In many cases they are vacations with a tax that contributes to home construction.

Maybe this exists already and if it does please send me a URL.

It would be nice to have a certified open source like community that maintains a web page with links to people in need, suggestions on how to make a long term difference  and volunteer opportunities that make sense.

The site (Like Wikipedia) would have to be moderated and endorsed by governments of countries that want to attract longer term solutions to local problems.

A place where people who want to donate know that every single dollar is going to contribute to a long term solution. This site would describe programs in a way that defined the goal, the need and the proposed solution. It would detail the risks (government intervention for example) and predict the probability of success. It would be open to the general public so that anyone could define a program. Programs would be vetted by neutral third parties and ranked using a published formula.

For people who want to volunteer, it would detail the risks, make travel and accommodation suggestions and contain guidelines that would give volunteers a good idea for potential risks to personal health and safety.

This would not be a site for vacation planning, it would be a site focused on making a difference.

I realize that conditions at each location (Governments, skilled labour, & lack of resources, to name just a few), contribute to the likelihood of success, so those things would need to be worked into the formula for success.

If such a site existed, governments of countries with people in need might actually use the formula to consider changes that would lead to people getting help?

Perhaps the formula itself could motivate long term change.

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Things sure have changed…

I can remember when companies treated their employees like extended family. Employers realized that making a work environment comfortable encouraged employees to stay longer and work harder. Employees liked going to work everyday and left with a feeling of belonging and job satisfaction (if they left at all). Employers encouraged a Work/Play balance that contributed directly to enhanced creativity which in turn lead to innovation that kept companies on the leading edge of their market segments.

What happened?

It’s clear to me that there are still some companies out there that know how to build an enjoyable, productive environment and they are realizing the benefits. The thing that surprises me is the number of companies that just don’t get it.

In the late 80’s the startup company that I worked for was trying to get a new product to market in a cost effective way and they realized that adding staff would not achieve the goal. What they needed was to have their existing employees work longer hours. They decided to offer the employees an opportunity to take their families to Disney World and Fort Lauderdale for an extended weekend. The company chartered a plane to make sure that everyone would travel together, they booked hotels and paid for everything. That trip became a legend that stuck with the company for years as a shining example of what could be accomplished when everyone had a common goal.

In actual fact if the employees were to add up the cost of the unpaid overtime and compare that against the cost of the adventure, they would have realized that the company came out on top. The company saved money on salaries and ended up with a world class product.

You could say that wasn’t fair, but the part I left out was that every employee was a share holder and the eventual success of the company paid way more than anything that was lost in salary. As an employee, I know that I really didn’t care. I had the adventure of a life time, made friends that I still have today and learned things that I continue to use in my work life 30 years later. I don’t think that I have ever learned as much in a compressed period of time. Did I compromise other things, yes … there are only a fixed number of hours in a day and I had to sacrifice time with my wife. We talked about it in advance to make sure there were no suprizes and we both enjoyed the adventure. Money from the companies shares paid off our first house!!

What’s the moral of the story?

It’s not always obvious what people will do when challenged and it’s not obvious to those same people what the benefits of sacrifice and challenge will yield. So, add a pool table or a beer keg, make sure all your employees are share holders and have an open dialog so that those shareholders know what needs to be done.

Adventures have more value than they cost and a first class work place will pay dividends that competitors can’t match. Companies have reputations and those reputations attract potential employees. If you want the best, you have to be the best.

Money is important but there is more than one way to achieve your financial goals. There are things more important than money and the two are not mutually exclusive.

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Happy New Year

Hey everyone,

It’s been a while and I have a minute, so I decided to wish everyone a happy New Year and provide a bit of an overview for what I am planning for 2019.

I hope to do more writing in 2019 starting with a new novel that will be written in February/March. The novel will continue the “Geoterra” series that already has three previously published books available on Amazon and Kobo.

I plan to book a few music gigs in February and March, so if you’re in the Ottawa area check back for times and dates.

I have started preparing for a kick starter campaign that will launch the first product “P-Mixer” from “Frayed”. The “P-Mixer” is a personal battery powered mixer that allows musicians to adjust their own mix without messing with the over all mix. More on that to come in another post. It has a built in limiter to protect your hearing and allows you to adjust instrument, vocal and house mix inputs separately in your in-ear monitor.

The “Frayed” guitar pedal line will launch this year with a single and dual slot pedal “The Duo” and “Uno” along with several plugin effect modules. The first effect module will be called “The Cavern” has been designed and the first rev PCB’s should arrive in the next few weeks.

I will be training over the summer for another half-marathon in September. I managed a personal best time in 2018, so I guess I have to run at least one more.

Nokia has lots of new and exciting things happening this year, but I can’t talk about those…

Stay tuned for more BLOG posts and I’m always open to suggestions.

..FG..

 

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Government and private business

For the first time since the last election I find myself questioning the Liberal government in Canada. The big news this week was 8 plant closures by GM world wide. One of those closures is in Ontario and the local union is being very vocal about the decision. On CBC-1 today there was an open discussion on wether the government should get involved. Almost every caller said yes.

I don’t get it. The business is failing mostly because of a changing market place, declining quality, lack of innovation and a general inability to compete.

The plant in question is a major employer in the area and I feel sorry for the workers that will lose their jobs next summer, but I don’t believe that the government should interfere with the nature order of things. When I was a much younger man, I was a dedicated GM enthusiast. Over the past 20 years however, quality has steadily declined and the models have been uninspiring.

Tesla on the other hand, is the first new North American car company in decades and they have innovated to the point of revolutionizing the auto industry. They fearlessly try new things and although they continuously flirt with bankruptcy, they seem to be hanging in there. Musk was quoted in the book “Musk” saying that the purpose of Tesla was to prove to other car manufacturers that there was a market for electric cars. He continued to say that the long term life of Tesla was not a priority especially if other car companies got the message. He has always welcomed competition and it looks like he may get some soon.

If the Canadian Government wants to save the jobs in Ontario, they should save their money and approach someone like Musk to see if he wants a manufacturing facility in Canada. They could give it away and it would cost less than propping up a failing business. In the past the government has thrown money at companies like Chrysler and Ford so they would  keep jobs in Canada only to have them walk away a few years later. Chrysler for example merged with Fiat and said the new company would not honour deals made by the old company.

It seems clear to me that the government should stay out of private industry and let the market decide who wins and loses. If they want to invest, pick someone who is an innovator. Someone who would build something new that Canada could use to compete on a global stage. Maybe Teslsa could open a plant in Ontario and build the “Model 4” or maybe some other young Canadian University graduate (Like Musk) could build a completely new form of autonomous transport for the world’s aging population.

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The state of things

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who pointed out that I haven’t been doing a lot of writing. I think I’m getting caught up in the crazy epidemic that seems to be happening around me and I’m spending more effort than I should trying to understand it.

There has definitely been a theme to my last few posts and today is no exception. I experienced another example on the way to work this morning that made me realize that people like Mr. Trump have always existed around me, but their actions were suppressed by social pressure to behave. Now that a world leader demonstrates daily that it’s ok to say stupid things, it’s ok to arbitrarily treat people with no respect and it’s ok to make up facts to fit his reality, people like him feel empowered do the same.

This morning I was waiting in a line of cars to turn left and a guy in an over sized white pickup truck drives down the shoulder past the five cars in line and blocks my view of the intersection so he can jump the queue and turn right. That in itself angered me and the other people in line, but just before he turns he looks at me smiles and waves.

The voice of reason in the back of my head says, “maybe he’s just friendly” or “maybe he has an emergency”, then reality kicks me in the back of the head and says “no he’s just a dick”. Then to make matters worse, a second guy from the end of the line does the same thing. I realize that being a dick is contagious!

I have to slap myself and say out loud that I refuse to be inconsiderate. I will force myself to be fair and when I am treated with disrespect I will hold my ground.

Then the anger passes and I realize that I am giving inconsiderate people power over me by acknowledging their actions.

So what’s the take away?

  • Celebrate the considerate and thoughtful people in your life.
  • Vote!  It is important to have the right people in office.
  • Help to restore social expectations.
  • Use your access to the Internet to call people out when they make up facts.
  • Don’t Panic [grin]
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Is it just me?

I have noticed that social interactions espically with strangers, have really changed in the last year. I think that Mr. Trump has made it acceptable to speak openly with less regard for political correctness and rational thought. Patience seems to be in short supply and fringe groups are organizing into gangs that share similar views. Car horns are working over time and there seems to be a trend toward short sightedness.

One major problem with this change is that the groups are empowered by what they read on the Internet and in the Media and they actually believe they are right. I am astounded by some of the claims that I have heard people make in social conversations and wonder what will happen when their positions are proven to be wrong.

In some of my weaker moments I have tried to inject some facts into these conversations and they are immediately rejected as “Fake News”. I guess the only thing rational people can do is keep quite and let the train wreck happen.

A popular saying in the medical community is “You cannot fix Stupid”. That may be true but it would be nice if we could find a way to work around it.

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headlines

For those of you who don’t live in Ontario, we have a new premiere. That would be like a state governor for my American friends and family. The new premieres name is Doug Ford and he is the brother of the former mayor of Toronto. He was elected in a fog of controversy that included charges for mismanaging funds brought against him by other family members. The Ontario voters were so focused on getting rid of the person in power that they did not seem to pay a lot of attention to who they were electing. Mr Ford has proven to be a short sighted clone of Mr Trump in his first few weeks in office.

What has he done so far?

  • He put an end to Ontario’s cap and trade program, which caps greenhouse emissions while allowing major polluters to buy and trade exemptions in the form of carbon credits.
  • He’s backing away from funding refugee resettlement and blaming the liberal government for what he calls a refugee mess.
  • He dialed back pharmacare by restricting the benefit to those without some form of private health coverage.
  • He delayed the implementation of stronger police oversight.
  • He paused plans to control the ticket-scalping industry.
  • He delayed new vaccine reporting requirements.
  • He delayed the onset of new anti-vaping laws.
  • He fired Ontario’s first-ever chief scientist.
  • He fired the head of Ontario Hydro and paid millions in severances.
  • He cancelled the electric car rebate and put a hold on implementing new changing stations.
  • He scrapped the Ontario sex education curriculum and reinstated the outdated old one.

In each case Mr. Fords reasons for these changes are lame and lean towards Mr. Trump’s vision that the world was much better off 40 years ago so we need to take a step back.

The chaos has just begun in Ontario but this form of regression has happened over and over again in history. It’s long past time for political reform. If the parties can’t pick leaders that the people want to vote for and the parties can’t implement policies that implement what the majority want, the system has failed us

 

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Open Mic Tonight!!

Hey Everyone,

I will be hosting the Open Mic tonight at the Royal Oak on March Road in Kanata. Come on out and help me entertain the crowd. The music starts and 8PM and goes until midnight. I will have a spare guitar if you don’t want to bring your own.

..FG..

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Who wins in a trade war??

What is a trade war?

A trade war is when countries impose tariffs on each other in an attempt to level the playing field with respect to manufacturing costs and cost of living in the different locations. Unfortunately, Governments sometimes impose tariffs to give their local manufacturers a trade advantage. In either case, tariffs result in counter tariffs.

Trade wars slow down business activity around the globe by restricting international trade. Trade wars have lead to global depressions like “The Great Depression”

Ask any economist and they will tell you that no one wins a trade war.

Some less informed leaders believe that a trade war is “good” and “easy to win.” but here are the facts.

Prices will go up

In a trade war, consumers and businesses have to pay more and pass that on to their consumers.

Tariffs imposed on raw materials effect the price of finished goods. When imported materials cost more, local producers tend to raise their prices to create a higher overall market price. No one wants to leave money on the table.

The bottom lines is that everyone pays more.

Businesses will lose sales

Trading countries will retaliate with tariffs and restrictions on goods and services, making them more expensive, and less competitive.

When companies lose contracts to sell their products in other countries, it can take a long time to win that business back. Their customers will find other, more dependable suppliers while the trade war is waged and have no reason to switch back if things return to normal.

With a lack of exports comes a lack of jobs and those jobs will be in all sectors of the market. Products will be effected first, but services may have a bigger impact.

In some cases countries negotiated to protect things like patents as part of trade deals. If the deals fall apart, the negotiated conditions will no longer be binding.

Trading partners tend to also be lenders

Many of the first world countries are carrying large debts and those depts are being financed by countries that they trade with.

If trade is restricted there is no motivation for trading partners to finance debt so interest rates will go up. With higher interest rates, banks will be much more cautious when it comes to personal and business loans making it harder to get money. If countries default on debts their credit rating is negatively effected and it is that much harder for them to recover after the fact.

A lack of financing will effect new business and home starts and banks may be forced to foreclose on assets in order to deal with loan defaults.

The end result is a stagnant economy that slides into a depression.

How do we avoid a trade war

If a country tries to start a trade war, they don’t understand the fundamentals of trade. A lack of leadership and understanding takes years to fix, so it’s best to let them be.

Countries with more experienced and reasonable leadership should seek each other out and strike new relationships to rebalance global trade.

    The bottom line is “No one wins a trade war”

 

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